Lovely, new, palatial tent. (Whoops, managed to chop the ends off in the photograph!)
We went on the marine wildlife cruise, again. In fact, the boys and I went twice, the others decided they didn't want to, although they did enjoy it.
We went to Inverewe Gardens at Poolewe, which we all enjoyed.
The children went pony trekking in the rain, which was a bit of a damp for them, but they soon recovered after a hot shower and a hot dinner at the pub.
We only did one walk with the children this year, I think David and I both felt we'd done enough for a while! We had fabulous cliff views before the haar came in, but I still managed to spot a common seal pup on the rocks just before we got back to the cars.
We'd taken the boys fishing rods this year, so they did a bit of fishing off the rocks and they'd both got crabbing lines aswell, so they did a bit of that too. I think the crabbing was more successful, as they actually caught some of those, but put them all back of course.
We popped along the coast to see the lighthouse, which we didn't reach last year and we also went to the Gairloch museum, which the children loved! They got to mill some flour using two different and ancient methods and were allowed to keep the product of their efforts, which delighted them. I got to have a go at spinning on a wheel, which I thoroughly enjoyed but was totally bamboozled by. I have the yarn that I made, but I couldn't do it again without a nice little old lady to hand to keep me straight.
The weather was great, warm and bright. It rained a couple of times, but mainly at night, (apart from the pony trekking day) and it didn't get in the way of us doing anything. We saw half a dozen eagles, four of which may have been White Tailed Eagles, but whilst I could tell they were eagles, they were too distant for an amateur to distinguish with confidence. They were definitely eagles! We only had midge problems the last evening, when some bright spark suggested a walk along the beach to say goodbye after our fish and chip supper. We got a little nibbled on the way through the dunes, but the breeze from the sea was just enough to get rid of them when we got there and spotting another common seal just off the beach made it worth while.
Oh yes, the Evans family holiday to Gairloch was, yet again, a total success. The children are already making plans for our return next year. Guess what? So am I!!
We stayed here, at Rothiemurchus campsite, overnight and our walk started after a bus trip a few miles down the road to Glenmore. Here, we had to walk half a mile uphill to the official start, with me moaning all the way, "I'm never going to do this, my pack's making my back sore, if I can't do today, I'll never do tomorrow!" Poor David. Luckily, he ignored me and after re-packing my pack, things settled down. Within half an hour of starting, we'd seen a Golden Eagle!
Please note, flip-flops are not my footwear of choice, neither are they a fashion statement, (they are zebra print, courtesy of David on a lone shopping spree...) but I find them to be invaluble when camping. Shared showers barefoot? I don't think so! At the time of taking this photograph, I had a humdinger of a mid-cycle hormonal headache. I managed to survive till 9pm, but then just had to go to bed. Luckily, it had gone in the morning.
Through the Ryvoan Pass, along Strathnethy to Rynettin, into Abernethy Forest Reserve, to Dell Lodge and onto Nethy Bridge for lunch.
Hill wise, this was the hilliest part of the walk, mostly uphill at that. I was expecting this to be the roughest track as well, but we discovered later, it was relatively easy going.
At Nethy Bridge, we picked up part of the Speyside Way, a popular walk mainly using disused railway. A gentle walk onto Grantown-on-Spey, a typical (Scottish) Victorian spa town.
David was a little blistered and sore at this stage, I felt remarkbly fine considering we'd just walked about 15 miles, but we'd done it at a really steady pace. The fish and chips were incredibly welcome that night!
The next day saw us set off on the Dava Way, a lesser known footpath, again using disused railway. The path started well, but as we got further along it, there were large stretches of huge stone chippings which were really uncomfortable to walk on and there were no ways round it, but we continued on. There were softer patches between which gave respite.
The photograph of me just before we crossed this viaduct was the last we took on this trip. It's at a place called Dunphail, which is in the last 8 mile section of the walk. Just before this was taken, we had been walking up a leafy track through forestry and come across a car parked on the track. I so wish it had been streamed up, it should have been. It was tea time, not even dark!
Anyway, a little further on, the blister on the sole of my foot at the top near my toes, that hadn't given me any grief, suddenly 'burst', (or at least, it felt like it!) It was exruciating and I was devastated to think I'd got so close and failed. Luckily, I am married to 'a man who can', in most situations and he dared to go close enough to my naked foot to strap it up. We could continue!
We made it into the town, just three miles from home, at around 8pm and I was so pleased. Not ecstactic at this point, just sooooo pleased to be close to my hot bath, champagne, curry and bed. It wasn't quite as straight forward as I'd wanted to go the last three miles home, I had proved myself and had no intention of walking any further, but my friend who'd promised a lift was in a restaurant, (!!) and the next bus was just too long a wait, so David treated me to a taxi. Bless!